DHS Adds 16 Countries to H-2 Eligible List

Moldova dropped from H-2B program participation only

By Roy Maurer Nov 30, 2015
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added 16 new countries to the list whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in 2016. The additions join the 68 approved countries from 2015, making 84 countries eligible to participate in the programs.

Effective Jan. 18, 2016, nationals of the following countries will be eligible for participation in the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and the H-2B low-skilled, nonagricultural guest worker program:

  • Andorra.
  • Belgium.
  • Brunei.
  • Colombia.
  • Finland.
  • France.
  • Germany.
  • Greece.
  • Liechtenstein.
  • Luxembourg.
  • Malta.
  • Monaco.
  • San Marino.
  • Singapore.
  • Taiwan.
  • Timor-Leste.

The eligibility designation expires after one year and must be renewed. The notice does not affect those who currently are of H-2A or H-2B status unless they apply to change or extend their status.

In 2009, when the list was first established, 28 countries were designated as eligible to participate in the visa programs. Eleven countries were added to the list in 2010, 15 in 2011, five in 2012, one in 2013, four in 2014 and five in 2015. One country, Indonesia, was removed from the list during that time.

DHS takes into account several factors when deciding which countries to put on the list, including the country’s cooperation with respect to issuance of travel documents for nationals of that country who are subject to a final order of removal from the U.S., and the number of orders of removal executed against nationals of that country.

Reasons to remove a country from the list could include fraud, abuse or noncompliance with H-2A and H-2B terms and conditions by nationals of that country, as well as evidence of economic impact on U.S. industries or regions resulting from the inclusion or exclusion of specific countries.

Moldova will be excluded from participation in the H-2B program in 2016 due to a “high occurrence” of failure to comply with H-2B visa standards. The country will remain on the H-2A eligible list, the department said.

Nationals of the following 83 countries are eligible to participate in both the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through 2016: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and Vanuatu. Nationals of the 84th country, Moldova, are eligible to participate in the H-2A program only.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy

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